Buyer beware

The February 10 1939 edition of the Toronto Globe and Mail contained three separate bits of filler about people who tried to scam their buyers when offering goods for sale. The first two were lumped together on the same page:


Both perpetrators were arrested by Detective John Atkinson, who possibly specialized in this sort of thing.

The third article appeared a few pages later. In this one, the perp had already been arrested and tried, and was now being sentenced:


Since this suspect was arrested in Toronto, it is possible that Detective John Atkinson was responsible for apprehending this criminal too.


6-year-old baronet

The February 10 1939 edition of the Toronto Globe and Mail contained an article about a six-year-old boy who became a baronet (a hereditary knight) in Britain when his father, British politician John Hills, passed away:


Sadly, young Andrew did not get to enjoy being part of the British aristocracy for long: he passed away at the age of 21. Since he had no children, his baronetcy became extinct.


Society page, 1939

When looking at old newspapers, I’m always fascinated by the society page. This was a listing of what various presumably important people were up to.

For example, here’s part of the society page from the March 20, 1939 Toronto Globe:


For instance, I guess it was important for some people to know that Mrs. G. Ernest Forbes was in Vancouver. (I couldn’t find anything on G. Ernest Forbes in Google, by the way.)

Because the Toronto city directories allow me to do a sort of retro snooping, I looked up people in this society page whose addresses were listed:

  • Mr. and Mrs. Harry B. Tindale were not at 1 Heathdale Road for long – I couldn’t find them in the 1938, 1939, or 1941 city directories. The 1940 directory is missing – maybe they were there then before moving elsewhere.
  • I couldn’t find 970 Avenue Road at all in the 1939 directory, but Ralph G. Henderson is listed there in 1941. Cross-referencing to his name shows him as working as a salesman for the firm of Collier, Norris & Henderson; I guess he was the Henderson. He’s not listed in the 1942 directory; he probably went off to war, as he is in the 1946 directory as the manager of Collier, Norris and Quinlan, Limited. I guess he lost his spot on the nameplate when he went away. I didn’t trace him any more after that.

Christmas in 1939

War had broken out in 1939, but the December 13 issue of the Toronto Daily Star was still full of the usual Christmas gift ideas. They ranged from the frivolous to the extremely practical.

You could give heirloom jewelry:


If your loved one was feeling nostalgic about their alma mater, you could give school insignia jewelry.


Birks-Ellis-Ryrie also claimed to offer gifts to “thrill the feminine heart”:


I suppose this is better than attempting to thrill the feminine liver or pancreas. If jewelry wasn’t appealing, you could try bags or “gay pullovers”:



Or you could go all-out and buy a fur:


There were also gifts intended to appeal to men. For example, what could be more practical than shoes?


And what could be more masculine than cigars?


And, if not cigars, how about cigarettes?


This ad does not show that Santa’s beard had undoubtedly been turned yellow by tobacco smoke.

For something a little more intimate, how about a dressing gown?


Or you could go one step further and buy a pair of pyjamas that will last the rest of his life – what could possibly show a greater commitment than that?


But suppose you want to be strictly practical when you give your Christmas gift. How about an electric toaster?


Or the man of the house could be possibly a bit too practical and give his wife a new washing machine for Christmas:


I envision this as having been received somewhat frostily, even after hubby pointed out that it included a 12 year reconditioning guarantee. After all, Heintzman and Co. mostly specialized in pianos, not washing machines.


1939 variety show

The August 17 1939 Toronto Daily Star featured this ad for a variety show for the Star Fresh Air Fund.


Jessica Dragonette (1900-1980) sang on the radio from 1926 to 1947, and was voted radio’s most popular female vocalist in 1935. She was able to sing in six different languages.

Shirley Ross (1913-1975) was at the peak of her fame in 1939, as she had performed a duet with Bob Hope in The Big Broadcast of 1938. She was cast opposite either Hope or Bing Crosby a total of five times.


High Park Mineral Baths

The May 20 1939 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this notice:


A Google search turned up a number of articles about the High Park Mineral Baths (nicknamed the “Minnies”). Torontoist and a Historic Toronto blog both provide a detailed history, and the Toronto Public Library has a number of photographs of the baths. BlogTO mentions the baths as part of an article on the history of High Park.

The baths were originally installed in 1913 as a part of the High Park Sanitarium, a facility that was affiliated with John Harvey Kellogg‘s Battle Creek Sanitarium. The sanitarium closed around 1922, but its owner, Dr. William McCormick, kept the mineral baths open. By 1924, they had expanded enough to host Olympic swimming and diving trials. The pools were closed in 1962 when part of their land was needed for the Bloor-Danforth subway.


Dying alone

Here’s a bit of filler from the March 20 1939 Globe and Mail that is unbearably sad to read:


If I read this correctly, Dr. Bond was dead for a week before anyone noticed he was missing.


Death In The Back Seat

One thing that I discovered when I started looking at old newspapers is that they used to include serialized stories, with a new episode every day or every week.

Here’s (part of) an example, from the March 20 1939 Globe and Mail:


I love that this serial features the eccentric Luella Coatesnash.

Dorothy Cameron Disney (1903-1992), later known as Dorothy Disney MacKaye, started off as a mystery writer and then became a marriage advice columnist, writing “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” for the Ladies’ Home Journal. Death In The Back Seat¬†was published in novel form in 1936.

Her Washington Post obituary is here. A review of her detective novels is here.